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Twistable cork to be unveiled

The much-loved original wine cork could be set for a return to the mass market with the launch of a twistable and resealable version that could do away with the corkscrew.

The Helix cork and accompanying bottle have a thread finish to allow drinkers to twist the stopper open and closed again, creating an airtight barrier.

It will be unveiled at the International VinExpo wine fair in Bordeaux today, and its makers say it could be on shop shelves in Europe within the next 24 months.

The design is the result of a four-year collaboration between Portuguese cork manufacturer Amorim and US bottle maker O-I, who are aiming it at the €6 to €12 “popular premium” market.

It follows research that found an “overwhelming preference” among consumers for the cork and glass bottle combination.

The manufacturers have used agglomerated, or granulated, cork for the design, which they claim offers greater elasticity and reliability than standard stoppers to better protect the wine.

Winemakers have increasingly been using alternative stoppers in the form of metal screwcaps or plastic to combat complaints about the inconsistent quality of cork and the resulting “cork taint” – the sour, musty taste that ruins a wine.

But O-I Europe president Erik Bouts said extensive testing of wine stored in Helix bottles had shown no alteration to the taste, aroma or colour after 26 months.

Consumer research in France, the UK, the US and China had been met with “overwhelming acceptance”.

Bouts said: “For centuries, cork and glass has been a winning combination in the wine market, yet it is only through this partnership that we have been able to create such a major innovation in the industry.

“Cork is still by far the preferred stopper. Our research has found that at least 80 per cent of consumers prefer the cork and glass combination for their wine.

“It has the highest-quality image in the market and now we have made it easier to use. And it is still the most sustainable option.”

Bouts said the cork also had the potential to be used for other forms of alcohol, including spirits.

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